Judging a Book by its Cover


Your book is finally complete after days, weeks and months of blood, sweat and tears. After editing and revisions you are now faced with the next step which is the book cover. Some will argue that the book cover is the most important aspect of the publishing process. Forget about the content itself, if you do not draw in readers with a tantalizing picture then you are pretty much screwed, right?

I’m only one small voice in a vast sea of experts but after perusing hundreds of covers I am finally ready to address this issue in my humble point of view. When I choose the cover for my first book, Isle of Skye, I had no clue what I wanted. I finally settled on a simple, yet dramatic picture of the setting sun over the ocean. I continued the theme for my trilogy and was happy with the end result.

The more I write my novels though the more interested I become in this subject. I decided to do a little research and proceeded to go through the Kindle Store with great enthusiasm. My findings were mixed to say the least. I found some really amazing covers that ranged from very famous authors to the just getting started indie authors.

But I also found some real cheesy, oh my God are you f-ing kidding me, I cannot believe someone thought that was a good idea, horror shows.

Let’s take for example Fifty Shades of Gray. The cover is simplistic and I think it makes readers want to dive into the book for curiosity sake. Why is there a tie? What does fifty shades of gray mean? These are questions I believe a majority of people asked and were also very much surprised at the content of this seemingly innocent yet strangely sensuous book cover.

Then there are others that make you cringe. I am just making up this title (hopefully) but when you have a book called Billionaire seeks slut I’m pretty sure we all get the drift. I don’t need you to shove some raunchy photo of naked people on the cover down my throat. I’m also not even going into the ridiculousness of some of the titles I saw. I think if you want to put it out there that this is erotica, great but E.L. James didn’t and she now has the most successful erotic book of all time.

My point is this: Sometimes, like our mothers all use to say, it’s good to leave some things to the imagination. I don’t need to see a woman bending over and a faceless man whipping her behind. I would much rather be intrigued and then pleasantly (or unpleasantly depending on the writing) surprised by the content after I started reading.

I also am somewhat offended as a woman. I think it’s objectifying woman on an extremely uncomfortable level. I am not a prude by any means but c’mon ladies let’s not go down that road. Yes, I am woman hear me roar. I can purchase erotica and not be ashamed of my sexuality or fantasies but can we try to invoke some sense of mystery and decorum?

I know there are probably hundreds, perhaps thousands of other authors who will look at my covers and think they’re boring and that’s cool because honestly I would rather be thought of as tame than trashy. I also would rather my kid’s look at me with some amount of respect.

So can you judge a book by its cover? In this case, it is a resounding yes!

1024x1024-TheAppBuilder-icon photomorropbay.com                  Isle of night book cover 3             Isle of Dawn book cover



The Dangers of Writing a Novel



Has writing The Cursed Charm placed a hex on me?


Todays blog post is a bit tongue and cheek but a subject I must address. A little over a month ago I started writing The Cursed Charm, Book one of The Fae Witch Series. Three and half weeks later I was done with my rough draft and the slight ache in my neck and shoulders grew more heavy as the days went on. When I had finally finished I told myself that I was taking a well deserved break and two days later I woke up completely paralyzed from the neck down.

I lay in my bed unmoving for a few minutes while I evaluated my situation. After a few minutes I was able to crawl out but the pain was excruciating. I first thought that maybe I had slept wrong and it would eventually loosen up enough throughout the day but the pain only grew worse.

Two days later I went to the doctor and he stared at me in disbelief when I told him I wrote my book out in three and half weeks. He also was pretty stunned at the fact that I had written and published three books, one cookbook, and completed a rough draft of another novel in almost exactly one years time.

I tried to brush it off as no big deal but the more I thought about it the more shocked I became at my work ethic and creative driving force that had propelled me into my current dilemma. Later that night as I paced around the first floor of my house I had a thought, actually it was more of a question.

Why did I feel the need to push myself so hard and are all writers just as sadistic?

It’s hard to convey to someone who does not live in the world I now call home about what it is I go through on a day to day basis. I have a difficult time explaining to people the absolute need to get out what’s in my head and onto the computer screen as fast as I can. I get the same looks all the time and hear the same advice. I need to take time off and relax everyone tells me. But what if I somehow lose my train of thought and story? What if I can’t get my writing mojo back? What if.. I have said it before and I’ll say it again.

What if are the two most dangerous words put together in the English language.

I realize now whilst I sit in pain writing out this blog post that the only real question is, What is the price I’m willing to pay to write?

My only answer is this; I write because it is who I am now. I write because it’s my passion and no matter how tired I am or how much physical pain I’m in right now, it’s still worth it to me. Yes, I need to take more time off and not be such a crazy woman. I am well aware that I can’t push myself into traction to write a book and I should not ignore the warning signals my body is screaming at me right now.

What can I say? I’m a writer and unless you chop my hands off,  I’m still going to pound away on this keyboard.

I also believe that writing The Cursed Charm has been stressful. I will state now that this is by far the hardest book I have had to write. I think it’s because this is a spin-off to the Skye Trilogy. I have to incorporate enough background for new readers and I also have to set up quite a bit of story line for book one. I see this book as being the starting point and I am determined to do it justice. I am also nervous and slightly stressed because the characters are a little different. I have to admit though, I am starting to fall in love with all of them and I suppose in some way I’m praying that my readers will too.

I can’t help but wonder if this is all physical but emotional as well. I also sit and ponder about my fellow writers. Do they put themselves through all of this or am I the only one? Is there some sort of support group out there for us Indie authors? Should I start one so we can all bitch and moan together?

I realized something yesterday when I was having a massive anxiety attack (side effect of steroids) that I am lucky to have a few amazing people in my life to talk me down from my ledge of crazy. I had an epiphany that instead of trying to deal with all of this on my own I need to try and include these wonderful people more in my life.

Instead of writing out my thoughts and fears, I also have to learn to express them better to my loved ones. It truly is incredible that sometimes you have to be broken before you can put yourself back together.

So is writing dangerous to our fragile health? Yes, but damn it feels so good sometimes, doesn’t it?

An Indie Author’s First year Reflections & Tips

Fischer 2011 Forest in Water Droplet, watermark for Shannon (1)

I was looking at the calendar today and realized that it was almost one year ago that I sat down to write my first book. It was a year of numerous changes and many highs and lows. I suppose in some ways, I’m shocked that I’m sitting here with four books under my belt and my fifth waiting for my first round of revisions. I think it’s important for any writer to take time to reflect and regroup before diving back into your work. I thought it would be fun and cathartic for me to post little tidbits to keep me grounded before I retreat back into my cave and into myself.

Shannon’s rules & tips, part one!

~ Write for yourself. You’ll never please anyone if you can’t please yourself.

~Edit, edit, edit and when you want to throw up if you read another word you’ve written, edit again.

~Take unsolicited advice and smile. You can always put them in your next book and tell them off in fantastic style.

~ You will find out who your friends are and you will also find out just how supportive your family truly is in times of need and personal joy.

~The phrase “Congratulations” will warm your heart but make you shake your head in perplexing wonder when it’s followed by “I haven’t read your book but good for you.”

~If you don’t like your story, chances are no one else will either…write for yourself! (Did I mention that already?)

~You will read your first book and curse yourself repeatedly.

~If you find yourself second guessing something you’ve written or you’re leaning over the keyboard with your head in your hands, keep going, and don’t press backspace!

~Don’t ever lose sight of why you started writing in the first place.

~ You will never make every person in the world happy but as long as you make just one reader smile or feel something, that’s all that matters

~If you start spending your fortune before you even sold a book, chances are you are doing this for the wrong reason. Writing a book is not a get rich quick scheme.

~The people out there who ask to be put in your book are the people you want to avoid.

~It’s ok to feel insecure when you hit publish. The writers who think they are great are the ones that suck.

~It’s perfectly normal to regard your fictional characters as friends.

~Writing is cheaper than therapy.

~Self-promoting is part of the job. Don’t worry about annoying your family and friends. After all, how many times have you heard about their fabulous lives, children, dinners, and vacations on Facebook?

~A Pulitzer is probably not in your future. I’m just happy to get one good review from a complete stranger.

~It’s ok to drop the f-bomb in your book.

~There’s no shame in calling yourself a paranormal romance writer or an author that writes erotica. At the end of the day you’re doing something that you love and you are passionate about. How many people can say that and how many people can say they wrote a book?

~Your first query letter is going to stink and your first rejection will cut like a knife. Don’t waste too much time beating yourself up over one email.

~Never forget why you became a writer and why you went down the Indie Author path. You have complete control over your work and you never have to bow to someone else’s demands.

~ Last but not least, write for yourself!!!!



Upcoming Books: The Fae Witch Series



After a crazy week of promoting and releasing Isle of Dawn, I have begun writing my new book, The Cursed Charm, which is book one of The Fae Witch Series. I usually do not like to talk about my upcoming books too much but because I’m excited finally to begin writing again, I thought it would great to share with everyone a little bit about my new project.

The Cursed Charm is a slight spin off to the Skye Trilogy. Familiar characters may pop up from time to time but for the most part this is a brand new story. In book three, Isle of Dawn, you got to meet Lucian, who is Lord Machall’s brother. Lucian is a Fae vampire and charmingly sexy. I have to say he is proving to be the most fun character I have ever dreamed up in my mind.

I am also discovering that this book is a lot harder to write from a technical standpoint. I’m creating a new series, but I have to add certain storylines from The Skye Trilogy. Tying everything together and developing new plot lines and characters has been challenging but I’m enjoying the way everything seems to be coming together.

In Isle of Dawn Lucian touches on the subject of Fae witches:

Excerpt from Isle of Dawn-

“Long ago, before the Fae, Sprites or Nymphs, two goddess witches were born by the mother of all Gods. Gaia is said to have created her very image into the Goddess Arianrhold, who was the epitome of beauty and light. She also was a powerful magical being. Where there is light, there is always darkness, so Gaia created the goddess Morrigan, who is the purveyor of death and war.”

“Gaia created them a beautiful realm but the other Gods were not happy. They feared these two goddess’s power, so they created the Fae. At one time they were all in the land of Fairlia but the witches did not like the interference from the King, so they made a pact with him. They would leave the whole land to him if he promised never to interfere with their business. King Cormagglia, your grandfather, was only too happy to comply. He knew the strength of their powers and was happy to grant them their freedom.”

“At the time, the Fae witches were ruled by a powerful but gentle witch. She was sad to see them go, but my grandmother had fallen in love with a Fae and she wanted my mother to grow up in Fairlia. Soon after an evil warlock, who I believe is working with Fonn, staged a coup against the Queen of the Witches, and he cast her and her family out into the human realm but not before placing a curse upon them.”


The Fae Witch Series will center on the ousted queen and her family. Her granddaughter Aston is at the center of the curse, and it is up to her to find the four instruments of power. It has been interesting to create a character that is the polar opposite of Willa. Aston is more serious and mature because of the pressure that she has been under all her life, but there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye as you will discover the deeper the story unfolds.

I can’t wait to share more of Aston and Lucian’s adventures. Writing their story has been an interesting task, but one that I am finding to be a great pleasure.

I had originally thought this book would take longer to develop, but I am excited to announce The Cursed Charm will be released around Halloween!

Stay tuned for more updates – Shannon






July SXSW Collaboration: Writing Chapter One



For this month’s July SXSW collaboration, Valerie and I are talking about starting anew. We both have finished our trilogies, and we are both embarking on the journey of creating a new series. I have to be honest; it really did take me awhile to get excited to begin writing again. I was still so wrapped up in The Skye Trilogy that I had a hard time saying goodbye, but now that the time has come to publish my third book, Isle of Dawn, I am feeling the proverbial butterflies in my stomach.

Before I even begin to write I always buy a fresh notebook and sit-down to outline my book. I start off with writing the characters, where the book is going to take place and a short plot summary. I then delve a little deeper with an outline of the book as a whole. I think it is important to get those details done first so you can have them for a reference later as you are writing.

The next thing I do is the chapter outlines. Now, I don’t always follow them religiously but I do like to keep them in my rearview mirror as much as possible. Usually when I hit the middle of a book I go back over them and adjust my former vision to fit where I’m now at in the writing process.

Then it’s time to daydream. Yes, I said daydream folks. I like to sit and write the book out in my head for a few weeks. I think it’s of the utmost importance to see the story in your head before you start writing. I know it sounds a little weird but trust me when I say that I would much rather have a clearer picture of my characters and my story before I begin writing.

Lastly, it’s time for the real deal. No more notes, no more daydreams, and no more talking. The first chapter is the hardest chapter to write. Period. End of story. Class is dismissed. To be honest, the first page is really the killer. You want to establish the entire book and the direction it is headed right away or else your readers will say sayonara, so long, see you later, I would rather be sleeping than reading this crap.

No pressure or anything.

When you finish writing the first chapter of your book, it’s like; a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You did it; you started a book. Yes, there’s a lot more work ahead of you but live in the moment, forget about the past, and be hopeful of the future.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to follow my own advice and start writing! My next series will be called The Fae Witch Series, and it will be a spin-off The Skye Trilogy. I’m hoping for the first book, The Cursed Charm, to be published in February… That is, if I ever get past writing the first chapter!



Valerie’s Viewpoint:

This month Shannon Barczak and I decided to write about starting over. With both of our trilogies completed we have each begun writing new projects. We each have different experiences with this and we wanted to share it with you all.  

This is the first book that I have written that does not begin with Harlow Whittaker & 

And to be perfectly honest it is rather refreshing. To be able to bury myself inside of another world, with a whole other list of characters has been my salvation in a way.  Last time we discussed saying goodbye and how hard it was to end our respective trilogies, well bear with me as I try and explain the other side of that.  

Writing has always been my escape and since currently my life is filled with a series of new beginnings, change, although the only constant in life, can also be very scary, even when it’s for the better.  Having a new project, something to distract me, that demands my full attention is a tremendous gift.

Ideas for this book, which is a sci-fi alien invasion novel, started seeping into my mind before I started writing the final installment in my YA Trilogy and I would jot down notes like, character names or simple plot ideas and when I did finally sit down to start writing I had notes inside of various magazines, backs of receipts and a worn out yellow spiral notebook that I keep next to my bed in case I get an idea first thing in the morning (or I just have an obnoxious/nocturnal character that keeps me up all night). And I try and string all the notes together-they serve as plot points and I fill in all the story.

It may not be the most organized or even coherent way to do it but it’s my process.  And somehow I decipher my rushed handwriting and incorporate it all until it’s one cohesive story that I then let sit for a few months before I read it and edit it for the first time.  I think the trick is to do what works for you no matter how ‘crazy’ it may sound to the rest of us, as long as the work get’s done right?

Surprisingly starting a new project wasn’t necessarily difficult instead it was more like a friend that helped me to cope with the ending of my trilogy. Writing my new book helped me to move forward from my other characters.  It proved to me that once again books were my comfort and my therapy. 

Want more Valerie? Check out her links!





Isle of Dawn Early Release!

Isle of Dawn book cover


Twenty years ago I sat down to write a book and I failed miserably. Over the years I secretly thought about several different stories and how I would go about writing them but I never had the courage. Almost a year ago I sat down to create the story that I knew I had to get out of my head and on to the computer screen.

Today my dreams have become a reality.

I decided to release Isle of Dawn, The Skye Trilogy, and Scrumptious Skye Confections a few weeks early. To be honest, it’s been done for over a week now but I was still hesitant. I wanted to hold on to them a little bit longer. In a way, I guess, I wanted to keep this book to myself as long as possible.

Isle of Dawn is so much more to me than book three of my trilogy. It’s a culmination of  my dreams, my goals, long nights and a sense of accomplishment that I have never felt before in any thing I have ever done besides becoming a mother. This is the end of my characters journey but in reality is just the beginning for me. I don’t want to say goodbye and I have finally come to the realization that I don’t have to bid farewell to the characters I have come to know and love.

To be able to publish my books is not only a way for me to reach other readers that hopefully are like me but it is also a way for me to preserve my thoughts and my writing for me to enjoy. I can’t tell you the thrill I get seeing my name on a book cover and I hope I never become jaded enough to dismiss those butterflies that are floating in my stomach.

This project was a long time in the making and today I realized that it wasn’t so much my writing that was the project but myself as an individual.

I am a published author of a trilogy and a cookbook.

Yeah, this past year really just happened… Holy Moley!

I hope my readers enjoy the conclusion with Isle of Dawn and I really hope they love the cookbook because that was a lot of fun to write!


Isle of Dawn:



Skye Trilogy Box Set:



Scrumptious Skye Confections Cookbook:



Isle of Night Free 7/17-7/21/2014

Isle of night book cover 3


I just wanted to write a quick update. I decided to take advantage of Kindle Publishing’s Free promo days for Isle of Night. The book will be available to download from 7/17-7/21/2014. I thought it would be a great chance for everyone to read book two before Isle of Dawn, book three of the Skye Trilogy, is released which is only two short weeks away!!!

I submitted a few notifications on websites that specialize in advertising Free Kindle Books and I was so excited to receive an email a few hours later from FreeBooksy saying that they were going to feature my book on the front page of their website!

They even gave me this cute little badge.


I hope everyone enjoys the book and I am also extremely anxious to finish formatting Isle of Dawn because I am so proud of this book. I cannot wait for everyone to read it and I hope you love the story as much as I do!

You can pick up your free copy here:


or here:



Need to catch up on the Skye Trilogy? Download book one, Isle of Skye now!



Book three, Isle of Dawn, will be released on July 31, 2014!


Isle of Dawn book cover



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